Chandigarh: That they were super-rich was never in doubt but the top political leadership in Punjab, especially from two families, are worth nearly Rs.250 crore ($48 million) of declared wealth. Affidavits submitted by the top politicos in Punjab while filing their nominations to various seats for the state’s Jan 30 assembly polls have revealed that their riches are getting bigger and better. So if the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has declared assets of over Rs.76 crore, it has not come as a surprise to anyone. His wife and Bathinda MP, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, is worth Rs.15.38 crore. Sukhbir is contesting for the Jalalabad assembly seat from the border district of Ferozepur. While the net declared wealth of the Badal couple alone is over Rs.91.38 crore, they, ironically, do not even own a car. All that Sukhbir has in the name of a vehicle is a tractor. It is another matter that the Badals are owners of two super-luxury hotels in Gurgaon city, adjoining national capital New Delhi. The latest of the hotels is managed by the Oberoi group and is touted as one of the top-of-the-line hotels in the country. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 84, the father of Sukhbir Badal, with declared assets of nearly Rs.7 crore, is the poorest member of the Badal clan. Badal Senior is contesting for the Lambi assembly seat against his younger brother Gurdas Badal of the Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) and first cousin Mahesinder Singh Badal of the Congress. Gurdas Badal, 81, who never came into political limelight earlier unlike his elder brother, has declared assets of nearly Rs.20 crore. Sukhbir’s brother-in-law and Harsimrat’s brother, Bikram Singh Majithia, who is a sitting legislator from Majitha near Amritsar, has declared a net worth of Rs.11.21 crore. Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh, who is contesting his traditional Patiala assembly seat, has declared assets of Rs.45.74 crore. Amarinder’s relative and the Congress candidate from Dhuri seat in Sangrur district, Arvind Khanna, has declared assets of nearly Rs.46 crore. Khanna has a foreign exchange violation case by the Central Bureau of Investigation pending against him. Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is the leader of the opposition in the outgoing assembly, has declared assets of under Rs.3 crore. Cricketer-turned-politician and Amritsar MP Navjot Singh Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, has declared assets of Rs.2.38 crore. Contesting from the Amritsar-east assembly constituency on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, she pedalled her way on a bicycle to the office of the returning officer Tuesday with her husband and a few supporters. Several other leading candidates from the Congress and the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance are worth several millions. Congress candidate from Jalandhar-north and former minister Avtar Henry has declared assets of nearly Rs.14 crore.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.
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